- The Royals could use a break.
The Kansas City Royals' 2012 has so far been a lot like the last season. The club started with a record-breaking 12-game home losing streak (and its home record is still the league's worst). They've hit the fifth-fewest homers and scored the sixth-fewest runs, and their pitchers have walked more batters than just three other teams. But we'll be damned if they haven't kept it interesting. On and off the field, the Royals - and their fans - have been the darlings of the sports blogosphere. The Pitch
rounded up the best moments so far and can't wait for more in the second half of the season.
Humberto Quintero's Slant-Eye Gesture
Whether it's shaving-cream pies during postgame interviews or rookie-hazing rituals, baseball players can be immature, especially if TV cameras are close by. So it wasn't shocking when Royals catcher Humberto Quintero mocked pitcher Bruce Chen while the southpaw was being interviewed during a national Fox broadcast in June. Quintero went full kindergarten mockery, pulling his eyes to slant them. Just about every sports blog in the world posted a screen grab of the insensitive gesture. Granted, Quintero probably wasn't trying to bully his batterymate, who is a Panamanian of Chinese descent. But it's the kind of attention that the team didn't need.
Royals Boobs is a Twitter feed devoted to pictures of women's breasts wrapped in snug Royals gear. Uh, yuck. It's a knockoff of KUBoobs, a movement started in the spring by Jayhawks fans to supposedly propel the team to victory. Royals Boobs just feels like a skeevy online Hooters for KC fans. Tweets like "Let's get a rally going!! #Royalsrallyboobs," accompanied by a picture of cleavage, are awkward. Even if women voluntarily send the feed their photos, their breasts are neither mascots nor lucky charms. Surely many of Royals Boobs' 1,200 followers would disagree. Let's hope that they don't start their own photocentric feed: RoyalsBlueBalls.
Royals Book Guy
There is no way to sugarcoat the Royals' home record to start the season. They were the first team since the 1918 Yankees to lose their first 10 home games. And during the club's 11th consecutive home loss, on April 23, a fed-up fan sitting in the $240 Crown Club seats behind home plate had seen enough. With the team down 4-1 in the eighth and ninth innings, the fan began reading a David Baldacci novel (possibly Zero Day). TV cameras picked up the bookworm, and Royals Book Guy was a thing. A fake Twitter account followed, and the Royals had another visual representation of fan frustration.
Home Run Fountain Swimmer
Regardless of the Royals' dreadful home record, fans still love going to the K. A May 6 tilt with the Yankees was no different with the bleachers packed. Quintero cracked his first bomb as a member of the team, and a cargo-shorts-clad fan, recognizing an important event in team history, hopped a small fence that keeps fans out of the fountains. A quick-thinking security guard grabbed the spectator to avert a fountain plunge. But the fan shook his grip and took a dip for the souvenir. Bobbing for baseballs in the K's fountains, of course, is a faux pas. The drenched fan was bounced from the stadium, and the Royals lost 10-4.
Baseball, like language, is easiest to learn when young. While gray matter is still squishy and growing is the best time for brains to absorb things like tagging up, the infield fly rule and balking. Same goes for unwritten baseball traditions and codes - like throwing home-run balls from the opposing team back onto the field. It's an act of sticking it to the other team that has carried on for generations at ballparks. Perhaps that's why a tyke at the Royals' April 22 game promptly chucked a foul ball, popped off a Blue Jay's bat, back on the grass. The kid had a hell of an arm, too. He melted fans' hearts and probably learned a valuable lesson: Home runs have to be between the foul lines.
Alex Gordon Busts His Own Balls
It's a lesson from America's Funniest Home Videos: Getting hit in the nuts is tears - streaming-down-your-cheeks funny. It just is. Scenes depicting testicular trauma probably make up 30 percent of all YouTube views. So when left fielder Alex Gordon - perhaps fatigued from playing six extra innings - fouled a 15th-inning pitch right into his executive committee on May 16, laughter was a natural reaction. Judging by Gordon's reaction - hopping around and crumpling into a crouch - he might have forgotten to wear a cup. So we couldn't blame him for grounding out on the next pitch and ending the game.
George Brett Unicorn
If Sluggerrr decides to hang up his spikes, his mascot replacement should be an easy choice: the George Brett unicorn. Chicago-based artist Jeremy Scheuch says he made the drawing because it fit with his current unicorn-focused works and colorful reworkings of vintage baseball cards. The Kansas native put the image on a T-shirt and wore it to a White Sox-Royals game and received plenty of stares. "You'd have to be a little crazy to wear a shirt with a George Brett unicorn on it," admits Scheuch, who has a tattoo of the 1985 World Series trophy on his leg. He says his Kansas City friends have been clamoring for the shirts, and he'll start selling them soon.
Two Pitchers, One Pair of Jonathan Broxton's Pants
The Royals' pitching staff apparently decided that the best way to welcome reliever Jonathan Broxton to the staff was to give him a complex. Fellow hurlers Everett Teaford and Tim Collins both squeezed into a pair of Broxton's uniform pants. Teaford tweeted a photo of the two, with the unapologetic description: "Tim Collins and me ... in Jonathan Broxton's pants!" The stunt doesn't appear to have upset the 300-pound Broxton. Heading into the midseason break, he has piled up 20 saves.
Jeff Francoeur Buys Fans a Round
Royals Boobs, the fountain diver and Royals Book Guy - the 2012 season has already shown us many ways that fans are entertaining themselves at the K, especially when the ballgame isn't going the Royals' way. Right fielder Jeff "Frenchy" Francoeur gave fans in the Frenchy's Quarter seats a surprise gift. Frenchy tossed his fans a baseball with a $100 bill taped to it. The attached note read: "Buy some beer on me." No wonder he's a fan favorite.
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